Friday, 21 December 2012

Olympic Sprint Through 2012

So much has been happening this year that we thought we might just give you a quick dash through our year, Olympic Sprint style!

In the winter evenings we started up the monthly cinema nights in our home where local friends and neighbours enjoy meeting together to watch films projected onto a big screen.

In the spring we enjoyed a wonderful fortnight in Cyprus, courtesy of Peter's parents, who have bought a holiday/retirement home in Kyrenia. We visited many of Penny's old haunts from the time when she lived there in the sixties, including both her old homes. Back in Breconshire we enjoyed the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations locally, as probably most of you did too.

In the summer Ifor was involved in setting up the Mid Wales region of New Wine Cymru and also regional prayer days around Wales with Waleswide. Our own monthly hill top prayer gatherings have continued and seem to be proving effective in opening up areas below. We have seen a number of people experience healing as we've prayed. One person who came to us with cancer of the kidneys felt very different as he left, and his oncologist is no longer going to operate nor give treatment and doesn't want to see him again for six months. All good fun! We hosted a training weekend for people interested in Simple Church and starting small groups who multiply. Also we were asked to speak to a group at Bristol Baptist College about what we are doing and trying to do in Breconshire.

On the family front, Kevin is still working and living in Pembrokeshire. Katie and Sam have returned from nearly a year in Australia and have settled in Chester. Lucy is still working in Norway and has moved to a new house. Mary has just moved to a new house in St. Davids this week. Becky and Pete have moved to a new house in Cardiff. We haven't moved house but we do have a new puppy called Sandy who is now six months old and good company for Rosie and more fun for us! Penny's dad celebrated his 91st with a barbecue and a great excuse for a family get together. Ifor's auntie and uncle celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary where we enjoyed another big family get-together. Our niece Emma married Richard which provided yet another opportunity for the family to get together. All wonderful!

Moving into Autumn, Penny has organised two successful counity events – a “Paralympic Party” in Llyswen and “A Day to Remember” in Erwood. The invitations continue to come in for talks and slideshows on Uganda and Kenya, progessing to include whole mornings in four schools. Ifor has become the minister of Glasbury Baptist Church. The chapel has been sold, but the people are meeting regularly in homes and quietly growing both spiritually and numerically. He has been invited to lead carols in one of the Glasbury pubs just before Christmas, as we did for many years in Broad Haven. Penny is busy making Nativity clothes for this and other Christmas events, while Ifor has started doing some relief milking on a local Glasbury farm.

If you prefer to take the alternative, picturesque route where you will see far more, simply Google “ ” where you will find lots of photos too!

Wishing you all a very happy Christmas, a wonderful 2013, and lots of love from Ifor and Penny.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Autumn 2012

Much has been happening since the summer, starting off on 1st Sept with the encouraging induction of Rev. Andrew Stammers whom we sent from Broad Haven to train for the ministry at Bristol Baptist College.  After much sacrifice, college work, training on the job at Radstock and fighting a brain tumour with surgery and chemo at the same time, it was a great joy to see him being ordained and inducted to Radstock Baptist Church.

This was followed six weeks later by Ifor being inducted by Rev. Peter Thomas as Pioneer Minister to Glasbury Baptist Church (see previous blog) at the Breconshire Baptist Association half yearly gathering in Maesyberllan, another huge almost empty chapel in the county. Absurdly the first role of the new pioneer minister was to organise the closing service and continue the selling of the chapel building!  Jaxne, who runs the cafe next door and has a canoeing business, is buying it. 
The closing service was held at the beginning of November with two dozen people (considerably more than expected) packed into the vestry at the back where the few members had been meeting for many years.  One member was the daughter of a former minister of the chapel, another the great granddaughter of the builder of the chapel. So this was a moving service, but the church itself continues as a small homegroup which is already increasing in numbers and they are seeing answers to their prayers.  Ifor preached on Joseph who must have felt abandoned several times but God turned the tables right around for him.  At the end of the service one person had a vision of a heart beating.  She did not know what it meant, but Ifor knew instantly when she told him.  He remembered the video at the BUGB Assembly a few years ago when Jesus' heartbeat sounded over the events of the crucifixion, slowed and was silent when He was dead, then stirringly started to beat again as the sun dawned on Easter Sunday.  It seemed God was saying the chapel is closed, but now comes the resurrection! - just as Ifor had mentioned in the last blog. Such reassurance!

Llanwrtyd Wells, renowned for its Bog Snorkelling Championships and Man v. Horse Race, held the World  Alternative Games which included a Biblathon - reading the Bible from cover to cover over four days and nights.  I joined in a three hour stint with two women from our next village and so ended up receiving a medal!  The organisers have no idea of the powerful effect of the Word of God being declared over the town, let alone the impact on the readers!
The Paralympic Party in Llyswen went well and was greatly appreciated by those who came which was  less than I'd hoped.  However this was a first so hopefully those who came will spread positive news.  The children participated in enforced-handicap games and all ages watched the short DVD's of Christian Paralympians and their stories.  My new friend Mary, one of the mums, took the younger half of the children.  They all enjoyed making Olympic wristbands with the Olympic colour beads used to tell the gospel (yellow or gold, black, red, green, blue - work it out!!) Mary also made lots of bronze, silver and gold medals which were presented by a local man who had his legs amputated after a road accident.  He himself has been competing in sport since the accident and showed his medals to much applause.

My Ugandan slideshows have progressed to taking whole mornings in four primary schools, with the children participating in balancing cups on their heads and attempting African dancing - even trying to do the two together as they watched the Ugandan pot dance! Afterwards the children have taken responsibility for selling the paper bead jewellery made by the children in Pastor John Okello's school to help pay for their schooling. I was also invited to sell the jewellery at two well attended coffee mornings as well as a couple of evening meetings.  These invitations are continuing, providing further opportunities to meet people, raise awareness, share exciting stories and of course sell the jewellery for the children from both Pastor John's and Moses' schools in Uganda.

Ifor has taken six harvest festivals this autumn.  These generally attract many people from the surrounding communities who swell the normally tiny congregations.  This year Erwood held a harvest supper in the Market Hall and invited a speaker from Sporting Marvels who do effective mission work in the Rhondda. It was well attended and enjoyed and a few people took magazines to learn more about how hopeless young lives are being given meaning, value and purpose.  We are both out most Sundays taking services in different towns, villages and isolated chapels in fields. Lights seem to be quietly coming on in some lives as they begin to recognise that a living, two-way relationship with their Heavenly Father is within their reach.  Other times we sometimes wonder why we are bothering!

The monthly hill prayer walks continue.  Last week we prayed over Brecon from the Crug - an ancient hill fort. The previous month we prayed from another hill fort, Castell Dinas, over Talgarth and the pass down to Crickhowell.  King Brychan reigned over the whole of Brycheiniog (Breconshire) from there.  He had 32 children, all of whom became saints as they evangelised a vast area down to as far as Devon. Many churches are named after these saints. Its fun unblocking wells of blessing!  Talgarth was below us in the mist as though it were being bathed.  As we prayed over some farms the mist then spread to encompass them too! On the hillside opposite is an ancient graveyard where protestant believers were buried when the country was catholic, and probably vice versa.    The time before, as we prayed over the Lower Chapel valley, God put a full rainbow in the sky, arching right across the valley.  Special.  The farmer who invited us to pray from the top of his hill field  received a copy of Angus Buchan's daily journal.  Please pray he reads it.  He went off in his tractor whilst we were praying - and found the pain left his leg as he went!  Another farmer whom Ifor has come alongside is reading his copy unfailingly every day and  like Mervyn is telling people about what he is reading, is praying regularly and people are noticing a positive difference in him. Yet another farmer whom Ifor has been helping has not yet started reading his copy.  Please pray he does as it will help him enormously with what he is going through.

Continuing on the farming theme, Ifor is now milking a huge herd one afternoon a week near Glasbury which he is enjoying.  A bit of  "tent making" is good, gives more credibility, opens doors and builds relationship with those who also milk there. This was not a job he sought but was invited to do.

Our youth group aims to meet monthly but with so many county-wide and national competitions the Young Farmers Club are involved with, meetings often get cancelled.  However numbers have grown to eight now and we are slowly working our way through the Journeys testimony dvd series. The picture shows two of them covered in loo rolls - the old testament understanding of forgiveness means "covered up".... and we are covered by His blood. This was before looking at a powerful story where a father forgives the murderer of his young daughter.  The series is really making the young people think.

Over a period of just a few weeks we seem to have had a run on ministering deliverance to a number of people and also been called out to two homes where ghosts had been seen. We had already released three ghosts from one of these homes, but this time the husband, who had not previously believed in ghosts, saw an Edwardian figure so definite, he could not see the furniture behind.  Hopefully the house is now 'clean'.
We were asked to speak at Bristol Baptist College about our work, at a day seminar focussing on pioneering ministries.  We showed our dvd "There is a light in the Valley" then spoke of some of the things we are doing and what we are hoping to do.  This had the effect of encouraging us and sharpening our aim.  Ifor also spent two days in Birmingham as part of a group of ten leaders from BUGB and BUW from all over the UK, meeting to explore a way forward for the two unions as they look to put mission high on the agenda.  A couple from Pembrokeshire came to quiz us about how we are approaching setting up small groups who will have multiplication hopefully built into their DNA. They are considering starting something along those lines in Pembs.  All this has helped us revisit our original calling, assess what seems to be working and keep us focussed.

For Remembrance Sunday I organised "A Day to Remember" for the whole community of all ages in the Market Hall in Erwood.  Taking flyers around the village enabled me to knock on lots of doors and have good conversations as most people were impressed with the idea. About fifty people came (a large turnout for a village event) and most of them dressed in 1940's style clothing or camouflage. The primary school in the next village contributed lots of collage poppies and potato printed poppies which we pinned to the black stage curtains. They also created lots of beautiful paper poppies on twigs which were used during the evening to plant a Flanders Field as part of the act of remembrance.  This was followed by a two minute silence while we watched a clip of the petals falling from the Royal Albert Hall. I did a short talk after that about the poppy and its symbolism, including how the red could also signify Jesus's blood, etc.  Children and adults alike learnt a little about the two world wars whilst playing themed games, watching video clips and hearing stories from members of the local community.  A table display of wartime memorabilia attracted much interest, as did a wonderful display by a member of the British Legion of many uniforms and items collected from that period.  After a teatime spread of Spam and corned beef sandwiches, bread and jam or bread and 'scrape', all was rounded off with a wartime sing-along interspersed with more fascinating stories.  A new friend from the next village helped me with the games involving her parachute, trenches with dead rats (stuffed socks with string tails to remove to the other side's trench!), air raid sirens, etc. So as well as learning a lot, they all had a lot of fun!  Ifor was involved with two remembrance services and the cenotaph at Glasbury.

Our monthly film nights ceased when the daylight hours increased, but started up again this month with a showing of Chariots of Fire which seemed appropriate after the theme tune was played for all the Olympic medal presentations. Only six came but all enjoyed it, including our amazing neighbour, Mrs Pugh, who will be 103 in January and didn't nod off once!

On the home front, we have a new puppy!  Sandy arrived in September to keep Rosie company.  As you can see they get on really well.

Mary celebrated her 30th birthday with a group of friends staying the weekend at Waterloo, followed by more celebrations in St. Davids.  She will shortly be moving to another house in St. David's.  As well as being youth leaders,  Katie and Sam now both have jobs and have moved into their new home in Chester. My dad spent over two weeks in hospital having put on a stone in fluid after a change in medication.  They managed to get it all off before he was discharged.  No sooner was he back home than he emptied the compost bin to make room to start some leaf mould! Unfortunately these last few days he has developed a very painful hip all of a sudden which is making it hard for him to get about.
One very special event in our family this autumn was the marriage of our niece Emma to Richard, a lovely lad she met in university.  This was held in the wonderful setting of the Brecon Beacons Mountain Centre, overlooking Pen y Fan and Corn Ddu.  My 91 year old dad grew lots of pots of sunflowers which made a stunning entrance to the marquee and attracted lots of admirers, including his sprightly sister who travelled up from London for the happy occasion.

Thank you all for your prayer support.  It is greatly appreciated and needed.  Please feel free to leave any comments - its good to know if this is being read!

Monday, 24 September 2012


Sept 2012 (written by Ifor)
In the last few weeks our ministry in Breconshire has taken an exciting and completely unexpected direction. It began when Glasbury Baptist Church started talking about selling their building because it was in a bad state and had a big hole in the roof.  I was on hand as Superintendent to help and advise. Glasbury have only four members and  for a long time had just one Sunday service a month. The Church Secretary and her husband have had to cope with a serious family illness for some time, and as a result the church hadn't met for worship for the best part of a year. The building was deteriorating, and closure looked inevitable.
The chapel is a large building, with a small house and garden adjoining and belonging to the chapel, and together the property was expected to make a good price. A neighbouring business was interested in acquiring the chapel , and they made a reasonable offer. Before accepting the offer it made sense to explore the possibility of amalgamating with a nearby Baptist Church. This was simply to ensure that any assets from the sale of the chapel could be kept and used for God's work in the locality, instead of disappearing to some Baptist fund in London, which is what often happens when a church closes and the Trust deed is invoked. The two churches were only a few miles apart and had worked together in the past and knew each other well. It made sense to amalgamate, as it meant that the other church would have some new members, as well as benefiting from the sale of the chapel.
And then things started going wrong. Or so it seemed. Quite unexpectedly, the other church said a unanimous 'No'  to the amalgamation. When I heard the news I had an immediate sense that this was a 'God thing'.  I prayed and asked God what he was saying through this, and I began to sense quite strongly that he wanted us involved in Glasbury. In the middle of the night I found myself wide awake thinking about the possibilities. I got dressed and went downstairs, and got out a local map. I discovered that if you draw a circle with a 4 miles radius around Glasbury, it includes 12 separate villages, including the small towns of Hay and Talgarth, with a combined population of over 5,000 people, but little effective Christian witness. What if we sold the house and garden and used that money to repair the roof and modernise the whole chapel? What if I became the minister of the church, and the chapel building became the centre for a new form of church to serve the whole area?  It was an exciting possibility and seemed to make a lot of sense. I shared the idea with Penny the next morning and she responded positively. Then we spoke to the Church Secretary and her husband, and they too were very positive.

Then we went to look inside the chapel. It was dire. As I looked around inside the deteriorating building, my heart sank as I thought about the time, effort and money it would take to refurbish it to an acceptable standard. And what then?To make all that effort worthwhile we would need to ensure the building was used on a regular basis, not just on a Sunday. This wasn't what we were called to when we came to Brecon. We were called to make disciples in small groups meeting in people's homes across the County, not to get caught up in a building centred church. And yet I had felt so certain that God was leading us to get involved with Glasbury......

After a few weeks I had to go back to the Church Secretary and tell her that I had got it wrong. We were back to square one, so I arranged to meet the members of the other church to find out why they had rejected the idea  of amalgamation. Their reasoning both surprised  and delighted me. Their argument was that their own chapel was in an isolated position up in the hills, and if we were going to have any chance of reaching people in the village, then Glasbury chapel needed to stay open. I was impressed by their positive reasoning, but I couldn't see how it could happen. "It would cost too much to repair the chapel." I said. "Then they could meet in the village hall." came the reply. "But that would be like starting a church plant. They just don't have the energy or resources." I said.  And that's when God spoke to me loud and clear. One of the ladies looked me right in the eye and said, "Well you're a minister. You do it!"
I knew that God had spoken, and that night as Penny and I prayed it through, it all became clear. God didn't want us to get bogged down with a building project. He wanted us to restart the church, but in a completely different form. A church based on small groups where people could grow as disciples.
God made it clear to us both that he wanted me to become minister of Glasbury Baptist Church. To become minister of a church with no building, no Sunday service, and precious little congregation. Why? So that I would have the credibility of being minister of the local chapel. That may not mean much in some places, but here in rural mid Wales, in a very conservative and traditional society, it means a lot. People may not go to church or chapel, but they still value the whole concept. They may not attend the Sunday service, but they respect what it stands for. If a stranger started a new church in the village, the locals would be suspicious and even negative, but if I become the new minister of the old chapel, then I immediately have credibility.

And that's what's happened. I met with the members and trustees of Glasbury chapel, and proposed that I become their minister, that we sell the chapel, that we begin meeting in each others homes in order to grow as disciples, and that we  look to organise occasional outreach events in the village hall or appropriate venues. At the same time I would begin to visit people in the area, introducing myself as the new minister and take it from there. They agreed unanimously, the offer for the chapel has been accepted, and we have started to meet together in different homes, already attracting two new people to join us. The small group of six people is already delighted with what they are experiencing in bible study and prayer.

If you are surprised to read this, it's even more surprising for me. In our call to start church from scratch, the last thing I expected to do was to get involved with churches that were about to close. And yet biblically it makes a lot of sense. It's resurrection. You can't have resurrection without a death, and when a church has come this close to closing, then the church can be resurrected in a completely different form. It's also very practical. One of the things I have been hoping to do is to start Alpha courses. For all sorts of reasons, it's a lot easier to start an Alpha course when you're the minister of the local chapel. And if we can start an Alpha course, that's a great way to initiate and establish small groups of disciples.

So there we are. We are planning a 'closing service' for the old chapel, and perhaps combining it with some form of induction. Or that may happen later. Someone suggested that 'Pioneer minister' might be an appropriate title for this rather unique situation. And if this proves to be an effective way of working out our vision, then I can already see the possibility of repeating this scenario in other parts of Breconshire. There are a number of chapels that are virtually but not technically closed, and which are ripe for 'resurrection'. If I became pioneer minister to three or four different churches in different parts of the County, then I would have distinct bases to work from. I could, for instance, spend a day a week in each place, look to gather a small group in someone's home, and perhaps have some sort of outreach service in each place once a month. Watch this space..........

Friday, 17 August 2012

Summer 2012

Summer?!!!  Ah well.  Actually there have been a number of dry days (as this photo of our front door proves); we just tend to remember lots of rain!  However the rain has not stopped God training and equipping us, pruning us and sending us out. First there was the Baptist Union of Wales annual conference, then just three days later we attended the second three day conference for New Wine Cymru leaders, this time in Lampeter.   The following week Ifor had a couple of days with Waleswide in Bala, looking at ways of church planting in areas of Wales where there is little Christian witness.

Peter Farmer  (Newforms, Mission Britain and Simple Church) stayed with us the whole of the following week to help us move forward more strategically and intentionally.  This intense week, especially with the training weekend at the end to which six others came too, certainly helped us see ways forward and recognise people and places of peace. Peter took us out of the "safety" of our home to hold some of the training sessions in cafes and pub! How easily we hide away! Why? This was helpful to see how simple church could be carried out in such venues.

During that  week  two young evangelists came up  for the day.  They got chatting with a group of teenagers in the cafe in Brecon who meet there regularly after school, some helping to serve there. After chatting about some of their experiences 

with God, they asked if any of the teenagers would like to experience God. No takers.  After chatting some more, one said he would like to.  He stood between the two of them while they prayed.  He couldn't describe what he was experiencing but said it was cool.  That opened the floodgates with "me next,"  "me next,"  "me next"!  So one by one they all experienced a touch from God.  They then sat back around the table and prayed together (see photo).  One of the evangelists prayed a commitment prayer which two of the lads repeated line by line.  The following week they were all away on work experience; then it was the Duke of Edinburgh week, then they broke up!  So we haven't been able to see how they're getting on.  Please pray for them.

Earlier that day we were in Builth Wells.  Imogen, one of our home group, went into a shop with Gerald, one the the evangelists, while the rest of us prayed.  The annointing of the Holy Spirit fell on the four in the shop - two ladies working there and two customers. The Holy Spirit gave 'words of knowledge' for each of them. Gerald gave testimony of when he first met the Holy Spirit and talked of God's love.  God's love then filled the whole place.  One, whom Imogen had prayed for about a breast lump just a few days previously, excitedly told the rest that it had got a lot smaller over the next few days. Since then it has disappeared.  Three previous lumps had had to be removed by painful surgery.    They then prayed against the pituitary tumour of the daughter of another lady there. The specialists since then have pronounced it too small to operate on and are hoping it will disperse on its own.  The third lady asked for prayer about selling her house in these difficult days. Since then she has had three viewings.  Imogen had prayed previously with the fourth lady there who had pain in her knee and back and was very stressed.  She has experienced lots of relief and peace and is keen to have regular prayer times with Imogen which will be easier to set up after the school holidays.  This has in turn led to contact with a woman currently in hospital with a spinal problem.

Carrying on the theme of healing, a minister from Cardiff asked if he could arrange to meet a retired minister from Welshpool at our home who would like to receive healing from cancer of the kidneys.  I was aware that his skin was very white when he arrived.  As we prayed, a word of knowledge released healing of a time in his childhood.  God's love poured over Him like a weight and he felt a great heat in his heart.  Then as we prayed against the cancer I was amazed to see his skin colour changing to normal.  He was due to see the oncologist at the end of the week about surgery, dialysis and starting chemo.  The report came back that none of this was now needed, there would be no further treatment and they did not need to see him for another six months!  Praise God!

While Peter Farmer was with us we prayer drove around the Llandrindod Wells area with Rupert who leads a church plant and joined us on the training weekend.  This helped him see ways forward, including looking into holding a healing evening at a pub there.  He also took us to meet one of his members who has almost finished building a gypsy caravan from scratch and would like it to be used for Christian purposes.  Imogen and I have ideas of taking this into shows and festivals to offer things like "Psalm Readings", "Creation Prayer", Christian healing and using something like the Jesus Deck which is designed rather like Tarot cards - Imogen has plans to design and produce her own version. We'll see how God leads us on this.

 We have been excited to meet Rev. Janet Russell who moved into the county a year ago to work as Director of Mission for the Anglican churches and feel that a good friendship will form with her.  Together with Rev. Neil Hook (who has since moved to Builth to take up the pastorate there) and the Dean of the Cathedral, Janet organised "Exalt" in Brecon Cathedral earlier this year.  This was a brilliant praise and light show that attracted lots of teenagers.  Neil has already started doing something similar on a smaller but more regular scale in Builth Wells now.  Janet will now be organising an event in the Cathedral as part of Cath Woolridge's next tour, along with the others - a great evening for us to invite many to.  When we hosted  her concert last year in Brecon her testimony and revival songs, together with her husband Dai's dramatic monologues, inspired many.  Brecon Cathedral last week staged a stunning flower festival entitled "Gloria", culminating in a Songs of Praise service One lady who prays constantly for Breconshire said "The Festival of Flowers Songs of Praise was absolutely amazing.  The cathedral was packed. The worship was so uplifting interspersed with scripture about glory.  The atmosphere wonderful as it was all to God.  As I sat still I sensed an outpouring of gold and silver being poured into my hands.  Amazing God, Wonderful Lord."

In July I was asked to give part of our testimony at a new group that Carole Dry has started along with a few others in a smallholding near Llandovery.  Some of the people attending this are new believers since the Journeys DVD series she and David led (see Jan/Feb 2012 blog). The following week Ifor spoke on the Holy Spirit  at the monthly group Carole and David have started near Sennybridge. This was followed with prophecies, words of knowledge and healings.  One person had a lot more movement in her neck and back without pain. Another had pain leave her arm after a word of knowledge encouraged her to receive prayer. The prophecies seemed to be very appropriate. One prophecy I gave spoke of the future God had mapped out for a young man there that he could choose to walk into. Last night I heard that he chose to put His life into God's hands just a fortnight ago.

Ifor led the anniversary service (the only service now held) at the isolated hamlet of Capel y Ffin in an ancient Baptist chapel hidden away up a farm track and over a stream but attended by large numbers of people, mostly coming from away. The only remaining member, seated in the front row, who now lives in a home, was wonderfully wrapped up in God's presence during the singing.  Two people there bought copies of the book "Heaven is for Real" that we mentioned in our last blog.  This book is quietly having an impact in the county as those who have bought their own copies are lending them to others.

I served on the Christian Rural Network Tent for the four days of the Royal Welsh Show, serving free teas and coffees and having  some good conversations with people. God blessed the show just as he had prophesied He would. It was an extremely hot four days in the midst of much rain either side.  This meant record numbers attending the show - and we heard around 700 people were treated by St. Johns Ambulance - probably mostly heat related.  One person was taken to hospital with first degree burns!   We had lots of good conversations prayed with a few people and made contacts with some local people we can follow up.

Ifor and I were asked to judge all the fancy dress competitions in the local show at Gwenddwr! We missed the pig racing at Erwood Show this year as it coincided with a college reunion party put on by some friends near Oswestry where we enjoyed catching up with friends we haven't seen for 35 years!  We took our stall selling Ugandan necklaces to Llanigon Show and also to Llyswen & Boughrood Show where I entered some the the competitions  and even won a few prizes! At this show I spoke to a couple of people about the possibility of organising a bring and share "Paralympic Party" in the village for people of all ages to watch or join in enforced handicapped games, eg blindfolds, hopping, etc.  They were keen on my idea of including short video clips of Paralympians whose faith in God has inspired them to compete. (from More than Gold's 'Undefeated' DVD)  They also like the idea of the children making Olympic bead bracelets that tell the story of us and Jesus, using the colours of the Olympic rings. I have since had a meeting with two of the mums who want to be involved in organising this event next month in Llyswen.  Someone else would like to do the same in Erwood and has ideas of borrowing wheelchairs and of maybe involving the local Young Farmers Club.

Just over three weeks ago Jonathan Vaughan Davies brought a small team from Bethel, Whitchurch to Brecon to do some "treasure hunting" with us. None of us had done much of this before.  We asked God to give us clues to help us find the people that He wanted to bless - His treasure. We each asked Him for clues about the location of the person, the name, the appearance, anything unusual and what prayer needs the person has. After writing down on our 'treasure maps' what we sense God is revealing to us, we headed out into the town searching for these clues. On this occasion I had the location as a bakery, I was guided by the uniform God had given me insight to,  the watch and even the man's name.  The prayer need was pain in one calf.  When I found him he was intrigued how God had pinpointed him. No one else knew about the pain he'd had in his calf for the last two or three weeks due to all the standing around on hard surfaces. He was very open to prayer.  Ifor had the clue of a woman wearing a pink mac. This seemed so unlikely as it was a hot sunny day, but nevertheless he found her.  She turned out to be a Christian who had recently moved into the area and was struggling to find a church that was open to and led by the Holy Spirit.

These last three Sunday evenings Ifor has been doing a series on The Joy of Giving at Bethel, Whitchurch which has been well received.  While he preached I wrote prophecies for people in the congregation whom God was highlighting.  For the most part these seemed to be spot on and encouraged the people concerned. A few people received healing.  One young man had limited movement due to back pain after lifting.  After prayer he seemed to turn into a pain-free bendy toy!  I didn't know anyone could bend that far backwards and defy gravity!  Another had stiffness and pain in his neck which after prayer he found, much to his surprise, that he had full movement and no pain.  One woman showed me her perfectly normal hands and told me that I had prayed against a bad case of psoriasis in her hands a year before which had cleared up completely over the following three weeks.  Another woman was surprised when the stiffness and pain left her neck as we prayed.  Mervyn ("There is a Light in the Valley" You-Tube) came with us on the last sunday of the series as he felt God was asking him to give an update of part of his testimony there.  What he said was relevant to a few people there.  So God blessed, encouraged, challenged, touched and healed many people there over the three Sundays - including of course ourselves.

We are still out preaching most Sundays.  At the end of June I took a service at this little chapel, formerly a smithy for drovers.  I preached about having a living relationship with Father God and all five in the congregation said a clear "Amen" to the commitment prayer I led from the front.  Two in particular were most responsive.  I lent a copy of the book "Faith Like Potatoes" by Angus Buchan to one of the farmers there.  Please pray that he will read it and be inspired.

One way to meet farmers and people from isolated homes  is at funerals.  Ifor took one recently for a farmer friend with a simple Christian faith to which nearly 200 mourners came and heard about the reality of Heaven.

One farmer whom Ifor met at a previous funeral is avidly reading  Angus Buchan's daily Bible reading journal and has no qualms about telling others what he has read that day.  His life is being steadily transformed.

At the beginning of July Lucy came back from Norway and Katie and Sam from 11 months away in Australia, so we enjoyed a wonderful reunion weekend at Waterloo with Becky and Pete coming up from their new home in Cardiff, Mary from Pembrokeshire and Dad and Auntie Jane coming over to join in the celebrations.  Katie and Sam will be living in Chester where they met whilst in university.  Sam already has found work there as a sailing and windsurfing instructor on the Wirral. They have also been asked to be youth ministers at their home church in Chester.

In August we all got together to celebrate Dad's 91st birthday with a barbecue at Waterloo - lovely time for all of us and the first time the family have all been together for two and a half years -since Katie's and Sam's wedding.  The next day we had another family reunion in Chepstow where Ifor's Uncle and Aunt celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary - another lovely occasion.

Our monthly hill prayer walks continue with praying above Glasbury in July over the Wye valley from Hay to Talgarth. Our daughter Lucy who was with us that day felt that Glasbury was going to be significant in God's plan for the county.  (See how this is unfolding in the next blog post!). We were all excited to learn that members of the anglican church there meet together fortnightly to pray for their parish.

 In August a small group of us climbed up into the wet and windy cloud on top of  Pen y Fan to pray over the whole county and beyond and blow the shofar, announcing the coming of the Kingdom of God.  From that evening onward the way forward for us seems to have become much clearer.  More of that in our next blog post.

We really value your prayers.  Please ask for clear guidance for us this coming month. We feel we have turned a significant corner but want to be sure that each decision, both big and small,  is God led.
God bless you all,


Friday, 15 June 2012

Spring 2012

Hello Everybody! Sorry you've had to wait so long for this post. As you can see below, things are progressing more quickly now so we will have to be more vigilant in making sure we keep you wonderful prayer supporters updated more regularly! We're calling this update "Spring" because although its nearly the longest day, we still end up lighting the fire some evenings! Thankfully a farmer friend has very kindly brought us a large amount of wood from a tree that had fallen.
Looking back on our last update, the monthly cinema at Waterloo continued successfully until we paused it after the Easter showing of John's gospel from Lazarus to Jesus' resurrection, as lambing had started and with the light evenings it was no longer appropriate. We intend to restart it in the Autumn. The Sennybridge/Crai group have finished the Alpha Course and have since done Christianity Explored. Mervyn is still witnessing to people enthusiastically and he will be coming in as Vice President shortly of the Breconshire Baptist Association. He will be the speaker this coming Sunday at the monthly Cafe Style service in Erwood Market Hall. He has been asked to join the worship group at the Elim church in Brecon which he has started attending. Our monthly hilltop prayer group has since prayed over Talgarth, around Talgarth town and the ruined mental hospital, and over Llandrindod. We are sensing these are having great effect and can definitely discern a lifting of the spiritual blanket over the county. People are becoming more open. Since the first time I prayed around Talgarth there have been encouraging changes: A dodgy shop I prayed to close has closed and is up for sale; another has 'cleaned up' what it sells, a cottage covered with New Agey stuff is no longer like this; a cafe there, which also sells lots of second hand books, including a couple of shelves of Christian paperbacks, has agreed to sell my Ugandan necklaces and offered to do so all summer. We are hoping this will be a 'place of peace' which may be open to hosting an "Essence" course designed particularly for people into New Age, for them to experience God in different ways. Please pray into this. Ifor and I have recently started joining with Ruth (who initiated these hill top prayer groups) every week to pray for the county. These prayers are also proving effective. Two weeks ago we felt God was asking us to fast and pray over the county. We did this by driving to five different viewpoints which covered most of the county. We prayed constantly for the areas we were driving through as well as from the hills. Some of this prayer was answered wonderfully the very next day concerning a domestic situation. On the Sunday after this Ifor and I led a service together in a chapel that normally leaves us feeling heavy afterwards. This time we came out buoyant at their response. Prayer really does change things!!!

At the beginning of March we led a church weekend in Stratford on Avon about "God's Secret Weapon - The Tongue" - how it can be used to tear down or build up. We enjoyed getting quite creative with You Tube clips, dramatised readings, stories, games, teaching, training in hearing God and how to prophesy to build up others and for outreach. They cottoned on to this very easily and were prophesying freely over each other so were greatly encouraged. One of the members even asked for our notes at a later date so that she in turn can teach it. Praise God!
Also in March I was asked by Brecon Library to do a display for Internation Women's Day and to sell Ugandan necklaces there. The library in Hay-on-Wye asked me to do the same three weeks later on their busy market day. Both resulted in good conversations as well as sales. One lady who saw my display in Brecon Library asked me to do the same in her home that evening where she was hosting a clothes auction for International Women's Day. The women there invited me to join them to do 'balcony dancing' in the village hall straight afterwards. This was mostly medieval dances from around the world - different but fun! - a group of women whom I would probably have never met otherwise. I think this original lady could well be a 'person of peace' and will pursue this possibility. Please pray in to this.

At the end of February 34 people crammed into our sitting room to hear Peter Farmer (do google his Mission Britain website) talk about forming multiplying discipleship groups through seeking out 'people of peace'. People were inspired and encouraged. So in a fortnight's time (29th June to 1st July) Peter will be coming back to train a number from this initial gathering to do missional prayer, how to recognise 'people of peace' and how to encourage them to form groups who in turn will form further groups. He warned us that many of these potential 'people of peace' will be like Saul was initially! Peter has very kindly offered to come to us a week before to help us get going with this pioneering mission more intentionally and strategically. Since that large initial gathering here, Peter has got together a small group of people from across the UK who are doing similar work to us. We now have a monthly Skype conference altogether where as well as learning from and supporting each other, Peter gives us some input too.

 Since Ifor and Bruce Collins spent a full day traveling around mid Wales meeting with lots of leaders to consider starting a New Wine Cymru Leaders group for Mid Wales, this has now had its initial gathering in Llandrindod Wells where the vision was cast and discussed and people were encouraged. We agreed to meet altogether again at the end of September. It covers a large area from Welshpool to Aberyswyth to southern Breconshire. There is a possibility it may subdivide into smaller regions in the future, but people in rural areas are well used to travelling long distances!

 We heard about a local  farmer who had suffered a tragic bereavement. We were just wondering how we could get alongside this grieving man whom we hadn't met when the phone rang. It was the undertaker asking if Ifor would take the funeral! Immediately there was an opening to visit him and his grieving extended family. Ifor was very well accepted and quickly became a friend to many of them. Quite a few hundred came to the funeral and many talked about it for a long while afterwards. This has opened up many doors. He is now avidly reading the Angus Buchan farmers' daily journal and being greatly inspired and comforted.

Further openings started when Ifor was asked to take the wedding of the daughter of some longstanding friends of ours in the county. The marquee had snow drifts against the window - this was in April! The brother of the bride asked Ifor to do a dedication service for their new son. Lots of positive comments after this, with some of the relatives asking to meet up with us again. So we are arranging a meal to carry on the conversations. One of them is keen to have walks with spiritual talks with her friends with us too. Another even more local couple are asking for marriage preparation. At the dedication service Ifor spoke about an easy to read book called Heaven is for Real by Todd  Burpo. Its the story of his three year old son Colton who died for a few minutes during an op for a burst appendix and since then keeps coming out with memories of what happened in Heaven during that time and what it was like. We have taken over a dozen orders for this book from guests at the dedication and from an anniversary service that same evening in a different church. Its a great one to lend out. You just can't argue with an innocent three/four year old who tells it as it is!

 Just before Easter a crystal healer came to see us. A Christian girl had recommended she came to visit us! Intrigued, she made contact and arranged to come over. She poured out all this stuff she is into and learning about, then asked us why we thought she was here in this "serendipity moment". She knew Ifor is a Baptist minister but apparently that was a good thing because her grandfather used to play the organ in a Baptist Chapel. Ifor explained that it is Christian healing that we practice through Jesus. She said Jesus is a part of her life - in the circle around her and asked if we thought it might be a good idea if she were have him more as the focus! As she practices meditation, I tentatively suggested that in the next two weeks leading up to Easter she could focus on the cross. She thought that was an excellent idea and hungrily took the Passion of Christ DVD to borrow to help her in this meditation. Yes we did explain that this Mel Gibson film is very gory, but that did not put her off at all. We haven't heard from her since so please pray!

Shortly after Easter, thanks to some of our family, Ifor and I had two wonderful weeks holiday in Cyprus, staying most of the time in our son-in-law's parents' beautiful villa near Kyrenia in the north. I lived in Cyprus as a child between 1965 and 1969 and have not been back since until now. It was wonderful to share with Ifor (and Becky and Pete in a brief overlap at the beginning) some of the experiences of a significant time in my younger life. I was thrilled to find that, beyond the built up areas, much of the island had not changed all that much. We hired a car and drove all over the island, visiting old haunts and swimming most days either in 'our' private swimming pool or snorkelling in the clear sea most days. We did the same in the south for four days and found both of my old houses. We came back brown, refreshed and relaxed.

After a long drive from Heathrow we arrived back while it was still dark to the roar of our waterfall that we had left as just a trickle down one side! We had no idea about the torrential fortnight of rain in UK that we had missed! With so much stone washed down, our neighbour who had been looking after our ducks said one day she had to paddle through four inches of fast water over the bridge! With the aid of a pick axe and lots of muscle power, Ifor has managed to reclaim our pond which was full of stone up to the top of the dam. Since then we have bought another three ducks from the Smallholders show in Builth Wells.

 Another blessing we have received came just at the time we had briefly wondered what would happen with our increasingly high mileage estate car that has been serving us so well. The free blessing came from a friend in the form of Mercedes Benz estate with half the mileage, a year's road tax and MOT! Amazing! Katie and Sam are equally thrilled that they will now have our old car with still a lot of life left in her when they return next month from their ten month internship at a Christian outdoor centre near Sydney, Australia. "Our God supplies all our needs ..."

 Some of you may know Tony Nam from "Flames of Fire" days. His step daughter Sian has done a year's school at Bethel, Redding in California. She came to our house recently to talk with a small group of us who gathered to learn from her about Prophetic Art. This is basically drawing whatever crazy picture that comes to mind after asking God for a picture for someone. Match-stick men are allowed! This is another good conversation opener to encourage strangers and friends that God knows them and understands. We were greatly encouraged by the pictures God gave for each of us in that gathering.  Our monthly youth group is now following the "Journeys" DVD series of testimonies and it is making them think. Last time one of the lads said he thinks he should start reading a bible to find out more about this stuff! 

Lastly, another testimony story: Ifor was asked to join the social committee in Erwood to help organize the Jubilee event there on the Tuesday. He had also been asked jokingly by a man to pray for good weather. He protested on the Saturday that Ifor hadn't been doing his job because although the weather was good for Monday, the forecast for the Tuesday was awful. (On the Monday night we gathered around a huge beacon on the hill behind us, and could see ten other beacons burning from that point - hundreds of fires lit all over Wales reminds me of that prophecy ...!) Tuesday came and the morning was dry. There was just a light drizzle for the sports in the afternoon then for the rest of the afternoon and evening at the marquee it dried up completely. He had heard that we had prayed at the chapel nearby and was amazed at the result and came up to apologize! In fact quite a few remarked on it, knowing the horrendous forecast and hearing that there was torrential rain in a village just three miles away, and 'rivers' running down the roads not much further away. It gave us opportunity to tell of similar occasions where God had sorted out the weather in very localized locations in spite of all odds. Food for thought! 

Thank you all for all your prayer support which we really value and which definitely makes a difference.  The ground is certainly softening!